Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Review: Buzz Bee Ultra Tek 8/Champion + Internals (15m Aus)

Buzz Bee's Ultra Tek line doesn't just sport increased ranges. With the larger Ultra Tek blasters, Buzz Bee has gotten into the business of interchangeable clip (mag) fed blasters, one of Nerf's major draws and advantages over most of its competitors. In this post we look at the smallest of Buzz Bee's models, the entry level UT8/Champion.

As usual, many thanks to Buzz Bee Toys for sending these Ultra Tek blasters to me for review, and note that their contribution does not affect the reviews in any way.

The UT8 has the same minimalist packaging as all the smaller UT blasters. Pretty ordinary stuff except for two noteworthy sentences - "Clip fed dart blasting!" (using the same term "clip" that Nerf uses) and "all Ultra Tek clips are interchangeable" (in contrast with previous clip/mag fed blasters which often had unique clips/mags and mechanisms, and also hinting at how Nerf-like their new clip [mag] system is).

Out of the box. Nothing unusual.
All loaded up.

Let's take a quick look at Buzz Bee's new 8 dart clip (mag).
While clearly inspired by Nerf's clip (mag) system, the 8 dart clip (mag) has its own Buzz Bee style that clearly distinguishes it.
Next to Nerf's 6 dart clip (mag). Note that the important bits such as the dart follower and retention slot are basically the same, while unimportant aesthetic features are rather different.
Note that the 8 dart clip (mag) lacks any translucent/transparent side or any slits to see how many darts are loaded, however due to the thinness of the clip (mag) and the contrast of the dart colours you can often see how many are loaded anyway.
UT darts, though a little shorter than Elites, fit fine in all the Nerf clips (mags) I tested, and feed fine in the Retaliator I tested. However they may have issues with Nerf made flywheelers due to their slightly shorter length, but I haven't yet tested them from flywheelers.

Elite darts fit and feed just fine in the 8 dart clip (mag).

Now Buzz Bee getting in on the interchangeable clip (mag) action is already a great step for them, as it greatly improves their blasters' practical use. However Buzz Bee has another few tricks up their sleeves, one being that their 8 dart clip (mag) fits and works in most Nerf blasters.
Naturally due to their slightly different design it does't fit perfectly in all blasters, notably of the ones I tried, the clip (mag) fits very, very tightly in the Rapidstrike and Elite Rayven.

Here's a slightly closer look at the UT8. While the design is clearly Buzz Bee style, it's clear how Nerf has inspired Buzz Bee's improved design. The UT8 is a cleaner, better looking and more practically designed blaster than many previous Buzz Bee blasters.
Down the muzzle. Hey that dart tooth and breech design looks familiar doesn't it?
Pullling the trigger retracts the dart tooth as well as firing the blaster. Note the AR in the breech, seemingly similar in style to older Nerf ARs.
The handle of the UT8 isn't the biggest, however I personally find it very comfortable. Certainly the most comfortable of all the UT blasters I've held.
The priming slide of the UT8 is rather small, however its bulbous shape is quite easy to grab and actuate. Naturally pump action is still preferred, but this slide is quite nice to use. The draw of the priming slide is slightly shorter than that of a Nerf clip (mag) system blaster. As such, even when the bolt is closed, if there is no clip (mag) loaded then a small portion of the breech or loaded dart is open to underneath.

A look at the magwell of the UT8. In typical Buzz Bee fashion it's a less sophisticated version of Nerf's, being a little smaller and thinner. This doesn't affect usage much, but it is something to note if your blasters normally get bashed around a lot.
Note also how the UT8 lacks any sort of dart receiver in front of the breech.
With the breech open. Note the blue part on the left, which applies friction to the breech when the breech is in a forward position.

Here's a closer look at the clip (mag) release, which is a really odd piece. Where most of Nerf's clip (mag) releases are pull backwards or push inwards, the UT8's (and the other UT blasters for that matter) is a push upwards. It's very awkward to actuate with your trigger hand since you have to reach out with your middle finger and push a small button upwards. Even with your off hand it's a little awkward to actuate, but if you grip the loaded clip (mag) and push upwards with your thumb, you can get the clip (mag) out fairly easily.
However the magwell is quite loose on the loaded clip (mag), so if you release the clip (mag) while holding the blaster upright, the clip (mag) will probably just drop straight out.

Using the UT8 is simple, the same as any Nerf clip (mag) system blaster.
To insert the clip (mag) as well as prime the blaster, you have to pull the slide back fully.
Then of course insert the clip (mag) if not already inserted. It's an easy, smooth motion with the only friction coming from the clip (mag) lock. No clip (mag) based locks here, unlike Nerf blasters.
Then of course to load the next dart and close the breech, push the slide forward, and pull the trigger to fire. The trigger pull is pretty standard, short and fairly crisp.

It's all well and good for Buzz Bee to have gotten in on the clip (mag) action, but this is their masterstroke:

The UT8 (as with all other UT clip [mag] system blasters) use and fit Nerf clips (mags)/drums perfectly. This is excellent as it means that you don't have to construct an entirely new ecosystem to support the UT clip (mag) system blasters, unlike for instance Vortex or BoomCo.
Here's the UT8 next to a Retaliator. While it is a little longer, it's also a little thinner and seemingly lighter (have not confirmed with a scale). The two are very much comparable, being that both are compact near pistol sized slide primed clip (mag) system blasters.
Just one last thing before performance, much like some of Nerf's clip (mag) system blasters I found that the UT8 liked to clip away at the back of the darts, stripping away small chunks of foam. While not particularly frequent, it was easily noticeable and may affect performance.
So how does the UT8 perform? Does it keep up with Nerf's clip (mag) system things?
Unfortunately, the Aus-spec one doesn't. Ranges from the UT8 average 9-10m, with very few outliers. So it's competitive with higher end N-Strike and the weaker Elite blasters, but not with the higher end Elites like the Retaliator.
Accuracy though is pretty good. Naturally thanks to the heavier, denser UT dart, the UT8 is capable of pretty accurate shots, with very few clipping the usual door frame at 8-9m range. Easily superior to pretty much all Elite blasters. Do note that it's not quite as good as say Buzz Bee's Air Max blasters, which were ridiculously and amazingly accurate.
ROF is comparable to a Retaliator, 2-3dps is possible with a good priming action. This is helped greatly by what I believe is an excellent slide design.

The UT8 fills the role of an entry level compact clip (mag) system blaster, much like the Stryfe or a bare Retaliator, but being a Buzz Bee blaster, is significantly cheaper than any Nerf offering. In the US the UT8 (Champion there) retails for 10USD - about the same as a Strongarm, incredibly cheap for a clip (mag) system blaster.
While it doesn't have the tacticool of Nerf's clip (mag) system things, it does its job fairly well. Sure the Aus-spec UT8 doesn't have that great a range, but the US-spec Champion performs much like any ordinary Elite blaster, and regardless the UT8 is very easy to upgrade for more power.
If you're on a tight budget but want to get in on the clip (mag) system action, then the UT8 is a solid choice. For what it would cost to get a Stryfe, you could get a UT8/Champion as well as a spare 18 clip (mag), a bunch of darts or even a second UT8/Champion. Alternatively you could spend that extra money on an upgrade spring to bring the UT8/Champion on par with or beyond Elite-spec performance.
Either way the UT8 is a decent blaster for a very low price, so I'd definitely recommend picking up one.

Pros: Cheap, cross compatible with Nerf's clip (mag) system, easily moddable, did I mention cheap?
Cons: Not as tacticool as Nerf's clip (mag) system, poor stock range (UT8 only)

Power: 4/7
Accuracy: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Usability: 4.5/5
Rate of Fire: 3.5/5
Overall: 4.07/5

Personal Rating: 4/5 - while it lacks the tacticool and sophistication of Nerf's offerings, the UT8 is a very solid and incredibly cheap entry level clip (mag) system blaster, and also has a lot of mod potential.

My BlasterHub review of the UT8: link

Let's look at the internals of the UT8.
To get the UT8 open, first you have to remove the muzzle piece. Mine had very little glue on it so was easily brute forced off, but you may have to cut the shell or something if yours is properly glued.
Without the muzzle piece, you can get a closer look at the breech and dart tooth.

Once the muzzle is off, you simply have to remove all the screws from the slide (which comes off easily) and the body.
 Here's the UT8 all open.
 Here's the odd clip (mag) release, a very basic design that works reasonably well.
A closer look at the dart tooth, breech and the top blue piece that applies a small downwards force to the breech for a friction lock.
This black box contains a couple of locks, such as locking the trigger if the slide is not fully forward, and locking the plunger tube/breech once primed. Note that that particular lock is released upon trigger pull, rather than the return of the plunger as with Nerf blasters.
A closer look at the rear of the blaster. Note the basic catch design and the plunger rod guide.
A closer look at the plunger tube in particular. Note that the slide attaches directly to the plunger tube.
The plunger tube is of a decent size, probably enough to get the UT8 hitting superstock velocities (100+fps).
The plunger tube is directly attached to the breech, and comes out easily. Note also the very standard plunger rod and head.
Down the plunger tube, a look at the back of the AR mechanism. Very Longshot-like.
A closer look at the catch slot on the plunger rod. It's a fairly robust design but may need reinforcing if you're going to throw really strong springs in there.

The UT8 is great for modding. Removal of the AR significantly boosts performance, and additional/replacement springs are very easy to fit in. All I did was throw in a spare spring of mine (felt like a stock spring from something else) and immediately got significantly improved power while still maintaining ease of use. With a proper upgrade spring I have no doubt that you could hit superstock velocities from the UT8.


  1. Does this put up a good fight against nerf blasters of similar operation?? Looking to pick up a few non nerf blasters that are clip based. ps. got a review on the buzzbee tyrant or. the new bolt action. buzz bee has.

    1. The UT8/Champion is pretty competitive with Nerf's offerings, as other Buzz Bee's other clip system Ultra Teks. All my reviews are linked in the Directory page.

  2. I've seen the UltraTek 24-dart magazine floating around for a reasonable $18.
    Just to clarify, UT magazines are cross-compatible with most Nerf clip system blasters, and can accept Nerf Elites with little trouble?
    If so, would these 24-dart magazines be worthwhile picking up, especially considering the lack of accessories available in Australia?

    1. I was under the impression that the big Ultra Tek clips were 20 dart, not 24. Regardless, they should be fine with Elite darts and most Nerf blasters. I personally just use a tonne of Nerf 18 clips, but if you can't get any second hand, UT clips should do fine.

  3. Where can we get these 24 cap clips in quantity?? 18 Shot is my standard but 24 clip sure do well compares to a a few drums